Belfast Telegraph

Derry council long way off finding £27m for leisure centre

By Donna Deeney

Plans for a new £27m sports facility in Londonderry look likely to get the green light from councillors, but a lack of any funding means it won't even come up for serious discussion for the foreseeable future.

Derry City Council owns and runs the 40-year-old Templemore Sports Complex which has been described as “no longer fit for purpose” by one councillor.

It could be several years before the council scrapes together enough cash to replace the aging facility, which was forced to close recently because of a problem with old pipes.

It is thought that the general consensus among all councillors is that demolition of the current building and a complete new build would be the “sensible” choice, however, at this stage all discussions have been on an informal level.

Other possibilities available include a proposal to refurbish the current building which would still cost approximately £18m.

A source in within the council said there was no hope of either happening as there is simply no money available.

The complex is the largest sports facility belonging to the council and incorporates two swimming pools, a fitness suite, indoor games halls and outdoor tracks.

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council confirmed the number of options available, but added: “These options have to date not been finalised or formally discussed, therefore it is premature to speculate about future options.”

Funding to redevelop another council sports facility at St Columb's Leisure Centre in the Waterside was granted earlier this year after an extensive campaign which began in 2005, however, this hit a shortfall of £1m which had to be sourced elsewhere to cover additional costs of fuel, material and labour.

When completed the St Columb's Leisure Centre will boast a judo centre of excellence along with a new swimming pool, a fitness centre and a multi-sports hall which could be available as a possible venue for City of Culture and the World Fire and Police Games in August 2013.

Councillor Shaun Gallagher (left) said: “Anything less than a complete new facility would be like throwing good money after bad so I can't really see the point in it.

“The complex is 40 years old and is no longer serves the purpose for which it was originally built, so rather than spend £18m on an old building it makes much more economic sense to spend an additional £10m and have a purpose-built facility.”

Cllr Barney O'Hagan added: “A substantial amount of money is in place and ultimately the most sensible option may be new build but I understand that we are some way off the JCBs coming on site.”

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